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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Freedom from taboo embraced: Kerala officer hugs ex-minister, wins hearts

Some have praised IAS officer Divya S. Iyer’s courage in sharing the photo on social media without worrying about possible vulgar comments, with a woman author calling it a “declaration of her freedom”

K.M. Rakesh Bengaluru Published 25.06.24, 06:16 AM
IAS officer Divya S Iyer hugs outgoing minister K Radhakrishnan.

IAS officer Divya S Iyer hugs outgoing minister K Radhakrishnan. Picture from Facebook page of Saharinadhan, KS Iyer’s husband

A picture of a woman bureaucrat hugging an outgoing minister has captivated Kerala with the intelligentsia joining ordinary people in lauding the open expression of affection and respect in a society where many frown on such public displays.

Some have praised IAS officer Divya S. Iyer’s courage in sharing the photo on social media without worrying about possible vulgar comments, with a woman author calling it a “declaration of her freedom”.

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The picture shows Iyer with her back to the camera, hugging K. Radhakrishnan who last week resigned as minister for devaswom (temple affairs) and SC-ST welfare, having earlier this month been elected to the Lok Sabha.

Iyer is now director of the Vizhinjam seaport in Thiruvananthapuram, but the picture was taken a few months ago when she was Pathanamthitta collector and Radhakrishnan had dropped in at her home.

The bureaucrat posted it on Instagram on Thursday after visiting Radhakrishnan, one of the most popular ministers in the Left Democratic Front government, to say goodbye.

Most of the comments it drew were appreciative, with hardly any critical remarks. Many social media users took delight in highlighting that Iyer’s husband Sabarinadhan K.S. is a Congress leader while Radhakrishnan belongs to the CPM.

“I feel the real story from the picture is the positive responses I have been getting. I feel very happy with the messages and calls, especially from women, who say it helped open their eyes,” Iyer told a television channel.

Iyer added:“I feel the people saw very different dimensions in that picture. But as far as I am concerned it was only a gesture of love and respect from one human being to another.”

Iyer said she always had high regard for Radhakrishnan and his commitment to the poor.

Radhakrishnan too expressed his respect for Iyer, describing her as a “hardworking person who did everything to iron out even the smallest of issues when it came to handling the problems of the tribal people and even the Sabarimala pilgrimage (when she was collector of Pathanamthitta, where the shrine is located)”.

Sabarinadhan, Iyer’s husband, expressed his happiness in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“The picture that went viral is one that was taken when Shri K. Radhakrishnan visited the (then) Pathanamthitta collector’s residence after an official programme,” he wrote.

“I am very happy about the positive discussions over a picture of someone hugging a person whom she respects.”

Malayalam novelist Benyamin, whose work Adujeevitham (The Goat Life) has been turned into a successful film, wrote in a Facebook post: “A hug with a thousand meanings at a time when the norm is to divide the people. Salute you dear Divya.”

Fellow author Lekshmy Rajeev praised Iyer’s courage.

“Ours is a society that hesitates to express love. There are thousands who would read even this comment stealthily,” Lekshmy commented on Facebook.

“A woman officer who is fully aware that there could be criticism and even vulgar comments over (her) coming forward to hug a minister is in itself a brave declaration of her freedom. She is not even worried about that picture going viral.”

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